Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cats: All Your Base Are Belong To Us!

When I am angry or depressed, one of the things that most helps me get back into a more productive mindset is our five cats. I've pretty much always had cats, and always will. In other words, all my base are belong to Cats.

My mother adopted (I prefer the term "swindled") my last two cats away from me, Ragnarok and Thelema, when we moved out of New York (she claimed she was going to watch them until I got settled-in back in California, then guilt tripped me into letting her keep her "grandcats"). Prior to Ragnarok and Thelema, I had cats named William Gibson Nyarlathotep Haynes (Gibby), Fuzzbass, Matey, Molly (and her eight kittens, who were born on top of me as I slept, and who all died before I could name them, tragically), and Daisy (people who don't know me very well don't realize that I'm also a huge fan of flowers).

I miss all my previous cats, deceased or living with relatives, but thankfully Anu and I now have five wonderful cats to help keep us company. Originally, when we married, I thought we wouldn't be able to have cats, because Anu was allergic. I planned to secretly keep cats, buying them a fancy home in the country like an investment banker's mistress. However, after introducing her to cats (she'd had only dogs as a kid), she decided to try to get treatment for her allergies. Fortunately, it worked.

To keep up with all the latest Internet memes of 1998, I present the latest of my traditional lame Net Nerd postings of "pictures of my cats." Like record and comic book collection lists, absolutely nobody cares about pictures of other peoples' cats -- except the Japanese, preteen girls, frumpy female clerical workers, Cat Fancy subscribers, and all manner of other people like myself who regularly visit sites like Kittenwar, Cute Overload, Cats In Sinks, Lolcats, (the sometimes mean) Stuff on my Cat, both competing Cute Cats, etc.

People who aren't familiar with cats often don't believe that our cats are capable of affection, enjoy the company of other cats, or have distinct personalities. Unfortunately, these myths about cats continue, even though cats are now the most numerous pet in the US. Cats are in fact quite capable of affection, and are not destructive or aloof if properly nurtured and cared for. Most types of cats do exhibit cooperative group behavior in the wild, though males will indeed fight over females (a behavior that is reduced by spaying and neutering, though my experience has also borne out the wisdom of the folks who say the most harmonious multi-cat households are all-male ones). Properly cared for cats are affectionate and well behaved, though they do indeed not like to be forced into a behavior, and will resist doing so. Badly behaved cats are almost always the result of bad cat owner behavior.

Here, then, are our well behaved cats and a brief description of their individual personalities:


Cthulhu is technically our first cat, though Sim actually made it into the house first. We adopted him privately, from friends at work. His name comes from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, as do all our black cats' names. In those mythos, Cthulhu reigns as the "great priest" of the Great Old Ones, waiting to awake and devour the universe. Our Cthulhu is nearly blind, with some kind of cataracts on both his eyes. No vet has been able to tell us why (the theories range from losing a fight with another animal to some kind of congenital defect), but it doesn't effect his ability to jump on me, climb me like a tree, and snuggle (his favorite things). Cthulhu is an utter affection hound, and will sit on a lap indefinitely so long as you're paying attention to him and petting him. He'll chase other cats away to get lap time, and often makes rounds from lap-to-lap if several people are around. At 18lbs, his proclivity for jumping on my head and shoulders can be a bit dangerous, so I try to grab him and put him on my lap before he gets a chance to leap.

Narasimha, aka Sim

Sim, he of the Pyothorax story, was the first cat in our San Pablo home. He came from Berkeley Humane Society, and is our resident chatty, cantankerous cat. His name comes from Hindu mythology, which is how we name our orange cats. Narasimha is a half-man, half-lion incarnation of Vishnu who outwits the the demon Hiranyakashipu and destroys him. Narasimha is considered a "god" of protection. Our Narasimha frequently follows us around the house, and often meows. Apparently he has a lot to tell us, if only we'd pay attention. He's also an affection hound, and especially likes to be petted on our living room bean bag chair (his chair), and in our home office (his room). Sim is the only one of our cats who is calm enough to sit on my lap while I write (I try with Cthulhu, and about once a month, he calms down enough that he'll stop climbing me and just nap while I write). Sim has staked out a cardboard box in our garage as his box. Definitely our most territorial cat, when he's healthy he still loves playing with the other cats and they often all sleep in a big pile, so he's not ornery to the point of being antisocial.

Shub Nuggurath, aka Shub

Shub came to us at the same time as Yog, both from Tri-Valley Animal Rescue. They were originally to be adopted by our friend Mattbot, but his landlord balked. Shub's name comes from a character popular with Cthulhu aficionados, despite not being described very clearly in the stories (more so in the so-called "revision tales"). Our Shub is very shy and skittish, and peculiar in that his favorite time to be petted is while he's eating (in fact, he occasionally won't eat at all unless one of us pets him). His favorite activity is hiding somewhere and watching over us, and the other cats. He doesn't like snuggling very often, and when he does, usually not for very long. But, when he does want affection, he demands it by running around us, rubbing against us, and then flopping over and showing his belly.

Yog Sothoth, aka Yog

Yog, arriving on the same day and from the same place as Shub, is our resident space cadet. His name comes from an "Outer God," said to be coterminus with all time and space, existing outside our known universe. Our Yog was probably weaned too young, and likes to try to nurse from Cthulhu, even now that he's an adult, and also follows Cthulhu everywhere. Despite our constant efforts to provide a good home, good food, and preventative medical care for our cats, Yog also almost died once from illness (a blocked urinary tract). Fortunately, he seems to be fine now. Yog is skittish and easily confused, and often freaks out and runs away when you give him the attention he's just requested by nuzzling you and then flipping over to show his belly, or by jumping on your lap. Other times, though, he will sit still long enough to be quite sweet and loving, before a bug, cat fight or Cthulhu's presence distracts him. With his short attention span, though, he'll usually be back over for another round of petting before too long.

Manashthala, aka Ash

Ash was the most recent addition to our home, and he came to us because someone at work who fosters cats for Hopalong / Second Chance Animal Rescue e-mailed out his photo. I forwarded it to Anu, with a message saying that it had been a mistake for me to open the mail in the first place as we were now doomed to a fifth cat. She resisted mightily, for about an hour. In Hindu mythology Manashthala is the lion steed of Durga who helps her destroy the demon Mahishasura. Our Manashthala is a hyperactive ball of energy who perpetually bounces around playing with other cats, his own tail, cat toys, boxes, the laser pointer, and pretty much anything else. However, he doesn't destroy stuff that's not given to him as a toy. None of our cats do (Yog used to eat fabric but has stopped, and they all scratch the couch now and then, but it's covered and we don't really care much anyway). Ash rarely sits still long enough to be petted, but sometimes he'll cuddle up on Anu's lap for the duration of a movie. Like Shub, he prefers to be petted while on the floor, especially in the hallway. He also employs the nuzzle-and-show-belly technique, and enjoys trying to wake us up in the morning with rather incessant meowing (a problem we solved by putting an old quilt behind the bedroom door to block the sound).

If you made it this far, (a) you're a total cat nerd (welcome, brethren), or (b) you're one of those reading addicts who can't stop reading a piece once they start and now you know much more about our cats than you ever wanted to.


LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

Lovecraft was an imaginative and talented writer who created a lasting mythos, but he was also a racist. Indeed, he was an overall misanthrope, but he was also a product of his times and thus his misanthropy took on various forms and degrees for various races.

Anu and I on the other hand are quite the opposite of racists -- indeed, we are "race traitors" -- and this is why Shub's full name uses the recent, alternate spelling.

The claim that Lovecraft was merely using the Latin root Niger in naming Shub Niggurath seems a weak claim in light of Lovecraft's other writings on race.

hatsumi said...

One of these days, I will live in a place where I can have a cat. Until then, I'm happy to be able to look at pictures of other people's cats...

Max said...

Actually, what it's done is convince me that I finally need to read H.P. Lovecraft, as opposed to H.P. manuals.

Not that I'm entirely up to date on my Hindu God avatars, but the idea of Hindu gods battling/coexisting alongside Old Ones is highly amusing and quite reflective of your interracial marriage.

That's right. I said it. You're both race traitors. Goths and Visigoths do NOT mix.

brianna said...

Nice thought we should really take care our pets . Your having collection and so many ideas about cats .....its really very nice.



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